03 August 2009

Experimenting with Pastels

"Last Shadows on the Dunes"
(pastel on Canson paper, 9x12)

There are times when one must navigate away from the familiar, like an old viking (!?), and explore new territories. For me, pastel is that territory.

It's scary because the marks are immediate. You truly cannot erase pastel -- it just gets smudgy.

It's messy and dusty. Here's a hint: never wear white shorts when working with pastels. I learned that yesterday -- duh.

So pastels are one of those areas I've stayed away from. But I love pastels. Every time I walk through the art store, I linger over those thick chunky sticks of pure color. I subscribe to the magazine Pastel Journal. I visit pastel artists' blogs -- two of my favorites are Casey Klahn and Marla Bagetta.

Then what's the problem? Dunno . . .

Yesterday, after spending hours making necklaces for a festival coming up in October, I took a break and pulled some paper over, opened up my box of pastels (yes, I do buy them) and spent about two hours working on this small painting.

This time I moved at a slower pace; I used fixative between layers, trying to build up those big juicy masses of color I so love.

It's a start. Another thing I like about pastels is that it is a very portable type of art-making.

This painting is worked from an inversion of an oil painting of mine -- Twilight on the Marshes. I had digitally altered it to another range of hues/saturations after converting it to a negative format. This helped me "see" it in a different way and gave me a new path for colors, etc.

Will I keep working with pastels? I'm not sure the viking in me is brave enough. I just have to remember not to wear white . . .


Casey Klahn said...

Every time an artist takes up pastels, a little bell starts ringing, and an angel in heaven gets wings.

perhaps it was synchronicity that you wore white...

Kelly M. said...

Casey -- you're funny! not sure my foray into pastels rates Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra -- but thanks for the encouragement!